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Jul 17

Online Struggle

To those gathered at the ongoing extrajudicial killing powwow, an attempt at a clarion call from the Chief Justice: Puno: Time to use power of judiciary . There’s more in Newbreak’s Chief Justice: Don’t Expect Elected Officials to Address HR Cases. This, as Rogue soldiers rubbing out leftists, Melo says -under the inspiration of a rogue Acting Secretary of National Defense? Meanwhile, Communist leaders reject Esperon’s ceasefire proposal -or is it, that Reds list conditions for talks resumption… ?

But as all this takes place on a national level, is anyone connecting the dots locally? What of news like this: In war vs youth offenders, Duterte reaches for the shotgun. Just recently, in Cebu, I met a Davao City resident, a young person, who was all praises for Duterte’s methods. And if that’s a sign of public attitudes, that should make us pause and think.

As Antiterror law takes early flak in SC, House, A cautionary note is being sounded in Thailand: Security bill reads like a list of broken promises (for additional background, see Thailand on Spin Cycle: As Thailand’s constitutional referendum campaign kicks off, the military rulers are doing all they can to make sure it passes).

Reuters has a story that Manila still a bulls market but John Mangun warns that,

…it is important to look at certain factors that may make stock investing a bit more precarious than it has been in the last six months.

The Bangko Sentral’s action is causing some worrisome signals on the interest-rate front. Yes, the BSP recently lowered the interest rates it charges for banks to borrow from the central depository.

Having said that, the market this week felt that the interest rate the government was willing to pay on its new borrowings was too low. While the banks probably welcomed the fact that it would cost them less to source funds through the BSP, they also felt that they deserved more in interest when lending money to the national government.

Further, a reduction in interest rates is going to cause additional appreciation of the peso. While an appreciating peso is not a great concern in this corner, at some point the peso strength is going to force some dislocation, and it could show up in the stock market.

An appreciating peso is good for existing foreign buyers who previously converted their dollars into pesos to buy shares. However, a much stronger peso may discourage further investment from overseas from the large fund managers.

When I see a news story touting the fact that portfolio investment from abroad is hitting record levels almost on a monthly basis, I tend to get a little worried. In addition, the question arises: have share-price increases moved too far (and too quickly) ahead of company profits?

Mangun’s column is related to the news that while Philippine peso hits 7-year high, there is an undercurrent of concern: GDP targets are firm amid peso fears.

On the political front, De Venecia allies belittle Kampi’s quest for power although columnist Julius Fortuna points out, or rather, reminds us, that Broadband row tied to JdV fate. In his column, economist Cielito Habito warns that controversies like the broadband deal are a return to Marcos economics:

In all three cases, good economics appears to have taken the back seat in favor of other considerations, in matters that profoundly affect the general public welfare. One would hope that the President, being the Ph.D. economist that she is, and having the last word in public policy in the country, would come to the rescue of good economics in the face of moves that fly in the face of the most fundamental principles of the discipline. Among the foremost of those principles is the one that says more competition is better as it promotes more efficient, effective and equitable outcomes, whereas monopoly tends to be inimical to public welfare.

One senses here a disturbing return to Marcos-era economics. Those of us who were around then know that government-sanctioned, government-supported, and even government-owned monopolies or cartels became the order of the day for crucial industries in the country–in media, telecommunications, domestic air services, and even in coconut oil milling. The disastrous results of such economic policy orientation continue to haunt us to this day–and yet we’re now drifting back toward the same trap. Will we ever learn the lessons of our history?

On a related note, John Nery inaugurates his new column in the Inquirer:

What is at stake in the struggle for leadership of the administration majority in the House of Representatives? The President’s post-Malacañang insurance policy.

Both Speaker Jose de Venecia and Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu have said they will not rely on the President’s support to win the vote, when the chamber decides the leadership issue on the morning of July 23.

Garcia recounted that, after De Venecia brought over a hundred congressmen to the Palace in a show of force last June 1, the President sent for him. “After that meeting, I was called to Malacañang at 3 p.m. The President told me: ‘I won’t endorse anyone publicly.'”

Garcia said his response was: “That’s good enough for us. We fight our own battles.”

De Venecia also told us he did not expect the President to get involved, precisely because he already has enough votes for reelection. (Before the first party-list groups were proclaimed, De Venecia reckoned that 124 votes were needed to win.)

He also recounted that, in the 1992 race for the speakership, President Fidel Ramos did not intervene. It was only when the Lakas minority had been transformed into the nucleus of an administration coalition, he said, that Ramos declared his support.

(This is an assertion we can understand, but not credit; surely Ramos, who famously worked the phones during Edsa People Power I in 1986, did not look on passively when his party-mate and chief campaigner threw his Pangasinan-sized hat into the ring.)

Diplomatic fracas: South Korean envoy says sorry for visa suspension, but the apology will not affect South Korea’s visa tit for tat: Korean embassy hints at action vs 15,000 undocumented OFWs.

Since my book for last week was “Mao’s Last Revolution” (Roderick MacFarquhar, Michael Schoenhals) it seems appropriate to introduce a helpful idea the Maoists had, which was “self-criticism”. Along the way, the interaction between bloggers and their commenters (and individuals can be both, blogging in their own blogs and commenting in others) is a kind of Struggle session. (Check out Morning Sun for a chilling look at the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, a period the Chinese themselves have now firmly rejected but which continues to enthuse the Jose Ma. Sisons of this world).

Whenever I give talks in schools I always bring up the concept of “fraternal correction,” as something that should be a defining characteristic of any organization. This is why we have the constitutional guarantee of freedom of assembly to petition government to redress our grievances; and it is what entries like Tingog.com’s latest points to: a form of fraternal correction, but also, a demonstration of the importance of debate:

Integrity is the key point here. This is something that all public officials must possess in order to serve with the true intent of helping the citizenry and not just themselves. If he can’t even have the decency to concede defeat and thus end the machinations that we saw in Maguindanao, then what guarantee will we have when he has to again choose between sacrificing his political career against that of the well being of The Filipino people?

Manuel seems to be putting more emphasis on the words that come out of our Fake Senator Zubiri rather than the actions that he makes. Talk is good, but a man’s actions is truly the only way we can judge him. And if his actions are for closing his eyes to the obvious cheating in Maguindanao, then how can we even start to trust him in helping lead our country.

What can I say?

Oh, I know. Noted. Just kidding.

You are are right, and this reminds me of something I’ve been urging for two years now, which is to be consistent. Though an entry in smoke (and the debate in the comments), perhaps no different from thoughts and exchanges regularly featured here, also serves to underscore a point I’ve also come to believe in strongly: we can stand to benefit from recognizing the limits public opinion has imposed, on the kind of political action the public’s willing to tolerate and support.

On an unrelated note, just to vent…

“Migz” has to be the most Jologs (in the standard, and apparently, objectionable definition of the word often used; a definition that Paolo Manalo dissected and disproved in a famous blog entry, and which was dissected to death in an online original research parody by Nino Gonzalez, which, bristling as it is with genuine citations, ends up an interesting disquisition on class in Philippine society and which points out how Jologs has taken on a counter-cultural aspect) political nickname ever (a political nickname is a manufactured nickname for ballot-writing purposes, often not the nickname the candidate’s circle of friends uses), just as his front-page picture recently in the Philippine Star had to be the tackiest attempt at political P.R. in an overwhelmingly tacky industry (“Migz” was photographed in pekpek shorts -yes, “there are pekpek shorts for men,” as Orange Pixie Girl presents once pointed out- with bare toes displayed to the world:I can understand some of the exasperated criticism of our media as hopelessly superficial, because, on one popular AM political talk show, the hosts spent close to half an hour commenting on how “pink” Zubiri’s toes were and how clean, apparently, the soles of his feet were, with a debate, at one point, on whether he got pedicures or not thrown in to boot; the biggest waste of air time in an industry that wastes much of its airtime as it is).

Rant over.

Inquirer Current republished a Black & White Movement statement that Rina Jimenez-David comments on; Conrado de Quiros, on the other hand, says the movement had inflated expectations concerning the opposition in the Senate.
Rasheed Abou-Alsamh on grass fires in Brasilia.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Caffeine Sparks discusses her misgivings about the Anti-Terror Law and recounts a debate with another blogger, on her wondering if the Marine beheadings wasn’t politically convenient.

YugaTech asks why Michelle Malkin doesn’t appear on the list of widely-read Filipino bloggers. Rickey and sparks answer.

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73 comments

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  1. Nick

    It does matter, the passion that we display, either online, or in person, wherever we are, is the kind of passion that will move our nation forward..

    Whether we agree or disagree, or even agree to disagree, the passionate Filipino that works for the improvement of the nation he or she so dearly loves is something that should not be left alone..

    Because, in just three years, we will have another election, this time, for our next president. If we can’t cry from the top of our lungs, against the raping of our own right to suffrage, then the local election operators will take this as a sign that it is ok for them to continue.

    Let us make it clear, whether you support Koko or Migz, that the true focus is the Will of The Filipino people and their right of suffrage.

    Maguindanao is proof positive, that a COMELEC overhaul is needed, so that their independence is once again put into practice…

    This is not about peace in our discussions, this is about discussion itself and keeping open the discussion until a change is reflected. One voice may not seem like it matters, but I think keeping silent is far less of a potent weapon in fighting tyranny than the debates we have here.

  2. Bencard

    buencamino, you really have a way with obscenities. keep it up (if you can’t, prop it up).

  3. Rom

    gentlemen:what good does passionate debate in blogs and on-line forums actually do? (in at least one instance – trillanes – i believe maybe all the blogging helped) but will debating here and living normal non-political lives out in meatspace make a difference in the country? nick said ‘in three years.’ in that time, can bloggers galvanize a nation to choose better?

  4. Nick

    Rom, that’s a question that can only be answered if we try. To sit idly by, is something I wish not to do.

    If there’s a positive change, even how small, I think it will have been worth it.

    Whether you believe that your voice or anyone else’s voice is too small to be heard, that’s your own opinion.

    But it doesn’t take away from the fact that others think it is worthwhile.

    The journey of a thousand miles must start with one step.. I’m all too happy to take that step along with others who feel that same passion to contribute to the discussion.

    The Filipino Blogger has only one way to go, and considering the infancy with which we find ourselves in, I think that direction is forward.

    Couple blogging with citizen media, and citizen contributed media, we have only seen just a small taste of what can happen.

    Together with the help of local media, mainstream media, and other organizations, I don’t see why we need to stop the tide of blogging or online discussions, just because we are uncertain of the future or that we are unsure that we can make a difference.

    There is no guarantee in life. Ninoy had no guarantee that his lectures in the United States would make a difference, but he made those lectures nonetheless.. Ninoy had no guarantee what would happen to him if he came home, but he came home because he knew it was the right thing to do for him and his nation..

    We don’t have a guarantee, but we have a conscience that tells us to keep on keeping on.

    But what is happening in The United States, with which citizen media has helped in contributing to the discussion during elections, should give us hope as to the power of a collective voice on issues. We can’t make policies, but we can certainly sway or even put to light what the national discussion should be focusing on.

    If this isn’t feasible today, I am confident, it will be in the very near future.

    Of course, Galvanizing the entire nation takes more than discussion, this is why we have government, private sector, and organizations willing to help. But let’s take it upon ourselves not to stay on the sidelines, lest we have to tell our grandchildren, that we did nothing because we felt we were just too small to make a difference..

  5. Rom

    nick:i see what you’re saying

  6. Nick

    Thanks Rom.. much obliged.

  7. Bencard

    ricelander: sorry, didn’t mean to ignore you but i got kind of tied-up with something. in your hypothetical, i assume that i am represented by a competent legal counsel who would employ all legal means to test the allegations against me, both in the preliminary stages before the fiscal, and in the court proceedings that follows.

    what the police and the fiscal believe are not important. it’s the evidence that they present, and accepted by the judge that matter. it will then be my counsel’s job to ascertain that the judge did not err in finding guilt “beyond reasonable doubt” based on properly admitted evidence. since the lower court’s decision pertains to a capital crime, appeal is automatic and my counsel will have a chance of having the decision reviewed by a higher court (appellate or the supreme court, as the case may be). in any event, i have a right to appeal and use every legal means to overturn the lower court’s decision. and when all is said and done, the buck stops at the supreme court – the final judge.

    re koko’s loss? after having done my best, and satisfied that i did my best for my client, i will hang down my head in sadness and say: you win some, you lose some – its time to move on. ( but i will not even think of ‘refunding’ the fee, ha, ha ha – joke, joke, joke!).

  8. Manila Bay Watch

    I’ve just read the article on Duterte! I am shocked!

    The man is mentally deranged!

  9. manuelbuencamino

    “what the police and the fiscal believe are not important. it’s the evidence that they present, and accepted by the judge that matter.”

    Maybe, But if it’s the Comelec sitting as judge, then it’s the soup you serve not the evidence that matters.

  10. baycas

    on the Tacurong blast…

    ermita: could be test case for anti-terror law;
    pnp: no, it’s extortion

    ok, ok…it’s EXTERRORTION…

    definition, anyone?

  11. Jowana Balana Bueser

    Pekpek shorts 🙂 Meron talaga niyan. And men should not wear them. Real men 🙂

  12. Bokyo

    Bencard, pardon me if I say this, you are more effective arguing or depending GMA and her allies’ side, even hypothetically.

  13. Devilsadvc8

    “can bloggers galvanize a nation to choose better?”

    not if the nation’s interest lies in anything but nation building. as someone here noted before, showbiz and technology blogs draws more views than political ones.

    and not until bloggers gain a face showing the public that they’re backing up their words with actions will the rest be inspired into action.

    the same can be said of Ninoy. the people lived in fear, and his lectures virtually meant nothing to the rest of the populace, except that they were empty bravados of a man safely tucked in a faraway land. but his coming home and his being assassinated galvanized the nation out of hiding and living in fear. bec here is a man, willing to brave death, to live his convictions rather than just spew it out.

    can anyone, even non-bloggers penetrate the apathy of today’s Filipinos?

    Yes. People will always follow leaders who show the way with actions rather than those who talk their way through. I personally, will follow Tony Meloto, if only he’ll show the balls to fight the fight that really matters. As it is, after he dies, what becomes of all that he’s done?

  14. Bencard

    how so, bokyo?

  15. watchful eye

    Error: In my double posts above (Jul. 18, 2007, 11:35 & 11:39) … that finally came out … the correct line shd read:

    “Many American lawyers are ambulance chasers. Check again the yellow pages in the U.S. and you will not need the rules of evidence to prove that fact. At least this aspect of legal ethics among Filipino lawyers is more admirable. Which one are you Bencard?”

  16. Bencard

    watchful eye: traditionally, american jurisprudence and legal ethics define, sanction and frown upon ambulance chasing. ordinary advertising limited to name, address, including e-mail, phone & fax numbers, and areas of practice are allowed. relatively recent liberalizations, and court decisions based on constitutional freedom of expression, now tolerates some degree of ‘horn-blowing’ and puffery.

    i have been a lawyer for more than 4 decades, the first 4 years of which was in the philippines. i’m from the old school and still believe in the old brand of morality, both in and outside the profession. i hate to sound self-righteous but i reject the kind of professional advertising that sells its product like a laundry soap, or a perfume with testimonials from show-business celebrities. i cringe whenever some lawyers (americans or otherwise) extoll themselves on t.v. through paid advertisements or orchestrated “shows” to obtain clients.

    having said all that, i’ll not be surprised if one of these days, some enterprising filipino lawyer will test the rules on professional advertising of lawyers in the philippines upon constitutional grounds.

  17. Bencard

    watchful eye: sorry i didn’t see your delayed post until now. i was going to let it go but some of your statements are begging for some good old scrutiny.

    first, judicial truth. you are asking me to read up on the term as if you are the expert on it. yet, i was the one who defined it, not you. you only used it apparently without understanding its meaning. now you want me to read up on it? what is your own definition and what do you think is wrong with mine?

    second, ambulance chasing. see my above comment which is awaiting moderation.

    third, your hypothetical. i’m not a mind reader. it’s your own hypothetical. you can change its nuances however you want but don’t expect me to know it. you want to speak in codes/symbolisms, go ahead but i’m not too good at interpreting poetry, even bad poetry. in any case, how could the sc be the “intruder” or co-conspirator? it is a passive adjudicator that came into the scene after the fact – not the creator of, or contributor to, the alleged act, which you now qualify as incestuous rape.

    fourth, what sc justices are all about. they cannot, as justices, be a proactive politicians that you want them to be. they act only on cases properly brought before them for adjudication. they don’t seek out approval from any one or any group. they don’t, except maybe in their private thoughts, entertain ideologies, political or otherwise. that’s why you cannot expect them to march on the street, or wear headbands, and raise their fists, without first giving up their posts. whether or not they were politicians before becoming justices, they cannot remain so while in office. now, you want me to read up on it?

  18. watchful eye

    I’m glad you are not only a Filipino lawyer but a Thomasian, right?

    Bencard, what you have written about being SC justices is fine. Go cc those justices who think and act as if they got their lifeline with a 12-M mandate. Do you really believe they are apolitical? Where have you been, buddy?

    And did you not see those headbands during the so-called extra-judicial summit … err … extra-marital … or extra-judicial beheadings … just check DJB’s site on this one. This guy’s not a lawyer but he’s commonsensically right on this score I guess. (Altho he’s a pain most of the time haha)

    On “judicial truth”, trust me read up, your exposition is still sophomoric.

  19. Bencard

    watchful eye: on “judicial truth”, is it fair of you to label my “exposition” “sophomoric” without giving me your own, or even a cut and paste of somebody else’s (more authoritative) work that is not sophomoric by your standard and belies my understanding of the term?

    i don’t know which justices are you alluding to. but there is such a thing as judicial ethics too where judicial indiscretions are outlawed and sanctioned. at any rate, i was describing what an s.c. justice ought to be, but i am not making any value judgment on the behavior of any particular justice (which is not my place to do).

    yes, watchful, i am a THOMASIAN and proud of it.

  20. watchful eye

    Check this one Bencard –

    http://lsr.nellco.org/cornell/clsops/papers/15/

    These quotes from the abstract will help:

    1. To put it schematically in one phrase, the Romanist legal culture seeks the substance of truth by trying to establish an official narrative through the rendering of a judgment by a judge who is seen as a “minister of truth”, whereas the common law legal culture is more interested in
    procedure; it organizes the public confrontation of two versions of the truth in order to make the most truthful narrative triumph. . . . these two different conceptions of truth-seeking (and, we could add, of error-minimizing) that we call, rather imaginatively, “inquisition” (for France) and “proceduralization” (for the US), have to do with the differences in the management of truth between Catholicism and Protestantism.

    2.The common law is a legal culture that, in order to produce truth, spontaneously organizes a competition of narratives in the form of adversarial battles between lawyers. Instead of attacking head-on the problem of “truth”, the common law culture prefers to evacuate, to turn around the substantive moral problems by constantly proceduralizing them. This is obvious, for example, in the context of the death penalty in the United States. It is a culture of “one step at a time”, of a gradual and prudent progression towards a “truth” that can be cognizable and acceptable by the community of jurists. Of course, this means an extraordinary spending of energy in motions, pleadings, and other procedural devices that can become counterproductive. On the contrary, the French legal culture is characterized by an intensely republican political philosophy since the French Revolution; according to the revolutionary project, the formalization of the truth is made through the structuring ab initio of an official narrative by the investigating magistrate, aided in his task by experts, and by integrating this narrative into a public discourse, a legal discourse that constantly and obsessively refers to the public interest. No doubt that is the case because the French legal culture is a profoundly political one. That is why the truly legitimate legal actors are, in the Anglo-American system, the individuals themselves, whereas in the French system, the State.

  21. watchful eye

    It’s under moderation Bencard, so be patient. Meanwhile, do you want to go back to the hypothetical?

  22. Bencard

    watchful eye, now i see what your problem is with my definition of “judicial truth”. it’s too short and doesn’t contain the history and the various ways it’s arrived at in different jurisdictions, i.e, the roman empire, u.s, france and the common-law countries. I didn’t think you were looking for a dissertation or a treatise on the subject.
    of course i was defining the term in the context of u.s. “proceduralization”, the same approach we follow in the philippines.

    thanks for the cut & paste though.

  23. Bencard

    btw, no thanks, watchful eye. i will have to charge a modest fee if i will have to answer another hypothetical. try jaxius. maybe he will take it as pro bono.

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